Young U.S. Latinos are known to have a relatively high risk of -acquiring STDs and to be less likely than other youth to use condoms. Nevertheless, research on the contextual correlates of their sexual health and condom use has been lacking. In this issue of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health (page 182), Julianna Deardorff and colleagues report on a study of how the sexual values of a sample of 16–22-year-old Latinos in the San Francisco Bay Area related to their employment of strategies to either foster or avoid use of condoms. The findings generally support the researchers’ hypothesis that traditional sexual values are associated with reduced utilization of strategies aimed at engendering condom use and with heightened use of strategies aimed at avoiding it. For example, the importance attached to premarital female virginity was negatively associated with participants’ use of direct communication to encourage condom use within their relationships; among women, it was positively associated with expressing dislike of condoms as a way of discouraging their use.

“Condom negotiation strategies among Latino youth,” the authors write, “are understudied and represent an important outcome of interest, given the documented associations of such strategies with actual condom use among Latinos.” Developing effective programs aimed at improving Latino young people's condom use, they conclude, requires in-depth examination of the “complex and nuanced” context of their sexual decision making.

Also in This Issue

  • Health educators can play a key role in shaping women's choice of contraceptive methods, but Kirsten M.J. Thompson and her team report that even in clinics specializing in reproductive health care, many feel inadequately trained to discuss long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) with clients (page 191). Furthermore, health educators in a sample of staff at 40 Planned Parenthood clinics were less likely than clinicians to use the most current evidence-based criteria in counseling clients about LARC use. The researchers contend that as women's access to preventive care expands under the Affordable Care Act, the role of reproductive health clinics and of health educators who staff them is likely to grow. Therefore, they conclude, it is crucial that policymakers, funders and clinic managers work to ensure educators’ ability to provide evidence-based contraceptive counseling.
  • Latina women's pregnancy intentions and feelings about an unintended pregnancy are often inconsistent, but as Abigail R.A. Aiken and Joseph E. Potter learned (page 196), that does not necessarily signify ambivalence about pregnancy. While the women in a sample of Latina pill users expressed seemingly clear intentions to avoid pregnancy, a considerable proportion of them—including one-third of those who wanted no more children—also reported that they would be happy if they conceived within the next three months. Furthermore, most of the women who became pregnant during the course of the study said that they were very happy about it. Aiken and Potter comment that the findings “highlight concerns regarding both the accuracy of retrospective reporting of pregnancy intentions and the interpretation of pregnancy intentions and feelings from retrospective data.”
  • Levels of risky sexual behavior among men in their 30s are linked to their union status, as Nan Marie Astone and colleagues found in an analysis of data from the National Survey of Adolescent Males (page 204). In general, married men were less likely to report risky behaviors than were those who lived with a partner to whom they were not married; men who were not in a coresidential union had significantly -elevated odds of reporting risky activity. The same pattern was -apparent regardless of men's level of past risk. “One implication of this study,” according to the authors, “is that interventions intended to -reduce men's levels of risky sexual behavior should not focus exclusively on younger men or those in very high risk groups.”
  • Legislative actions seek to ban abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation, and social discourse often casts aspersions on women who seek pregnancy termination at this stage. But in comparing interview data from 272 women who had abortions after 20 weeks and 169 women who had first-trimester abortions (page 210), Diana Greene Foster and Katrina Kimport found that the two groups were “remarkably similar.” (However, relatively young women and those who were unemployed had elevated odds of receiving later abortions.) Moreover, women in both groups encountered problems that caused them to delay obtaining the procedure, and delays “snowballed” for women who received later procedures. The researchers conclude that “several of the reasons women delay seeking abortion…cannot be reduced by shortening the window for abortion care” and that bans on later abortions will “disproportionately affect young women and women with limited -financial resources.”

The Editors